Look on the Bright Side

Hey, kids. Welcome to Look on the Bright Side, a pro wrestling column written by someone that actually likes pro wrestling, and isn’t afraid to admit it. I know, I know – I can hardly believe it myself.

Love the concept? Hate it? Think I missed something important from last week? See something this week that you think should be here? Email me by Sunday evening.

So, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last month: last night was ECW’s One Night Stand. (For the second time. How is it possible that neither Paul Heyman nor Mick Foley riffed on that in any of their promos? ANYway…) I enjoyed the hell out of last year’s show, and was very much looking forward to last night. And while the show itself was very satisfying, I am a bit worse for the wear this morning. You see, my lovely, beautiful and talented wife gave me an early Father’s Day present: a bottle of fine scotch malt whisky (no, that’s not a typo: it’s irish “whiskey” and scotch “whisky”) from the Isle of Jura called Superstition. And I, in my infinite wisdom, proceeded to drink much too much of it that evening. Hopefully, I didn’t say anything terribly stupid at the post-PPV chat. (Well, at least no more stupid than my Roundtable assertion that “there is no chance – none, zip, nada – that RVD is walking out of [the Hammerstein Ballroom] with the WWE title”.)

I’m originally from Philadelphia (as if you couldn’t tell from photos like this), but I missed the true heyday of ECW – at least, in person. I was at Penn State (on my seven year plan) during the beginning of it, and then moved down to Maryland in the mid-90’s. I was able to keep up by reading results in Usenet: but I never actually saw a show in person. (I plan on making up for that rather soon.) Fully half of my wrestling DVD collection is now ECW: everything from last year’s ONS that I copied from TiVO (so, I have the full “Enter Sandman” entrance with original music) and “The Rise and Fall of ECW”, down through random bootlegs like Barely Legal and a few Philadelphia shows.

It’s weird that I feel such an affinity for a promotion that I really didn’t get a chance to partake in the first time around. But oh well – it’s here now, and I’m loving (almost) every second of it. To celebrate, this column is going all-ECW this week. I am your big swinging schlong of hardcore today, bee-yatch.

Pimptastic

Gee, too bad there’s nothing on InsidePulse about ECW recently, eh?

My fellow native Philadelphian Alex Lucard has an excellent live recap of last night’s show. In fact, it’s almost too good: he mentioned about half of the points I was going to use for this column (bastard).

Scott Sawitz reviews the next movie I’ll be taking my son to go see.

I’ll admit: I loved this movie, but I did not expect it to make it into The 50 Club.

Iain catches you up with the big “52” storyline, and a whole mess of other stuff too.

Shelly and I agree: the fight this week on “The Ultimate Fighter” was by far the best of the season.

Shawn catches you up with the week that was in music.

WWE vs. ECW

1. The only problem with the overwhelming positive feedback about this show is — it’s killing my column! How the hell am I supposed to have something to write about when Tommy calls it “the absolute best show on free tv since Nitro went off the air”, and even Scott freakin’ Keith writes that “if they can deliver shows like this every week, I’ll be watching”? C’mon guys, I depend upon you all being bitter, snarky cynics – get with the program.

2. Cena’s promos this week have been stellar: that line about “John Cena autographs” on Monday night was pure gold. The ironic part is: having Cena mention the concept of a riot, and seeing how the cameras focused on that “If Cena wins, we riot” sign made me even more convinced that RVD was going to lose in some screwy manner, just so Heyman and ECW could ride the wave of hatred for the next month or two on TV. Looking back now, I agree that that concept is just nuts – but it’s not like Vince hasn’t done anything like that before.

3. If that was the last great promo that Mick Foley ever does, he certainly went out on a high note. Anyone that dares to criticize Mick for his multiple “retirements” should cram their attitude where the sun don’t shine.

4. Say what you will about “non-ECW guys in ECW” — but there are two immutable facts about Angle and The Big Show turning: 1) Both guys have immense potential in this promotion with Heyman booking for them, and 2) absolutely no one saw either turn coming.

ECW One Night Stand

1. The fact that neither Joey nor Tazz mentioned Joey jumping on Lawler’s back until 1:59 into the show was pretty amazing. Seeing an announcer that has no need to get himself over is still a shock to the system.

2. As much as I’m looking forward to seeing the new ECW shoot-style version of Kurt Angle, it’s pretty obvious that the quality of his matches are going to be strongly dependant upon his opponent being able to keep up. Orton really looked out of place in the beginning of their match, until I realized that was part of the story they were telling: Angle was wrestling, and Orton was doing nothing but WWE-style offense. And they kept it up the entire time – Orton was only able to get the advantage when he pulled off a dropkick or after Angle hit the ringpost. Everytime the two of them engaged in any actual wrestling, Angle had an immediate advantage. That was pretty cool.

3. It will be quite interesting to compare and contrast the “unstoppable monster” pushes that will be given to The Big Show and The Great Khali over the next few weeks. I have no doubt in my mind which will be more effective, but do wonder how the WWE Creative will react when they figure it out.

4. Man – absolutely no one relishes cutting a promo on ECW like JBL. His very presence draws incredible heat, and he knows every button to push in order to work the crowd into a frenzy.

5. The Funk/Dreamer vs. Foley/Edge match was truly awesome, but I think my favorite part was the hardsell they did on the concept that getting out of that barbed-wire plywood hurt even more than getting hit with it. I cringed everytime someone had to pull themselves out of that monstrosity.

6. There were at least three separate times during Eugene’s promo that I was convinced he was going to make Grut’s prediction in the Roundtable come true.

7. You know, after hearing everything Lawler and Bradshaw had to say, John Cena really has to be wondering, “Hey, what the hell did I do to get you all so pissed off?” Seriously: all the guy has ever done is show up for every appearance he’s asked to make, promote the living hell out of his company, and sell a crapload of merchandise. So he’s not the greatest technical wrestler in the history of the sport? Yeah, so what – neither is the Sandman, and the crowd loves him. Yes, he’s held onto the title for quite a long time: but who here believes that he’s booking this himself? And for that, the ECW crowd acts like he ran over their dog?

I’ve asked this before, and I still don’t know the answer: there have been dozens of somewhat boring babyface champs that pandered to the crowd and didn’t have a great wrestling repertoire, but none of them ever got the reception Cena has at Wrestlemania and again last night. (I admit: I absolutely lost it when the crowd threw his shirt back at him. Again. And again. And again. Utterly classic.)

But — why Cena? Why now?

Think on that, email me about it – and I’ll see you all next week.